Special Education and Inclusion Philosophy
Posted: Aug 16, 2020
History of Special Education and Inclusion
This paper aims at providing my personal philosophies related to special education and inclusion.
In the United States, special education was a major challenge since it was left to the discretion of the schools (Esteves&Rao, 2008). This is evident in the case of Massachusetts where the Supreme Court in 1893 upheld the act of expulsion of students as a result of poor performance. Moreover, it also occurred in Wisconsin’s Supreme Court where the case was brought against a student with cerebral palsy being in school because he was making the other students and teachers uncomfortable. It was continuing until Congress passed National Defense Education Act (NDEA) in 1958 that federal government played a role in the public education sector leading to the promoting of science and mathematics in elementary and secondary schools. Besides, President Dwight Eisenhower signed the Public Law 85–926 that provided financial aid to colleges and universities aimed at training teachers who handled children with mental disorders (Martin&Terman, 1996). In 1993, more support was given to the special education course when the Congress expanded Public Law 85–926 financially contributing to the education sector offering trainings to the teachers majored in special education (Martin&Terman, 1996). Moreover, more research money for different forms of disability was availed.
Another breakthrough happened in the form of Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965 (Esteves&Rao, 2008). It was the first time the federal government had a platform where it could subsidize various services offered to specific population segments in both the elementary and public secondary schools. In addition, in 1966, Congress empowered The Bureau for the Education of the Handicapped (BEH) to introduce the enhancing projects aimed at improving the education for children with disabilities. As a result, a program by the name Title VI formed the first legislative education act for children with disabilities (Martin&Terman, 1996). However, despite these initiatives by both the Congress and activists, it was evident that disabled children amounting to millions were still being subjected to exclusion. Additionally, during the period of 1971-1972, district schools around the United States adopted different forms of special education. However, seven states were known to be educating less than 20% of children with disability; other 19 States only cared for less than 30% while 17 States improved the statistics but failed to reach its target of 50% (Martin & Terman, 1996).
This situation presented a national problem to Congress and needed instant countermeasure. As a result, Congress enacted Nondiscrimination—The Rehabilitation Act and Educational Grant Program. Nondiscrimination Act involved expanding the Public Law 93-112 section 504 in 1973, according to which, any institution which was a beneficiary of federal aid had to curb any form of discrimination. Moreover, in 1990, the Nondiscrimination Act was empowered by passing of American with Disability Act (ADA) that affirmed the rights of people with different forms of disability offering more help to parents of children with disabilities than IDEA (Osgood, 2005). Concerning the retaliatory approach by the Congress, another act issued in 1975 was the Education Grant Program under Public Law 94-142. The program was aimed at ensuring that all the children with disabilities received free education in all public schools as well providing the extra costs and complementary services (Osgood, 2005). As a matter of fact, these two sets of legislations resulted in the change in the education sector and are still being used as guidelines towards reaching more inclusion in the sector.
Inclusion in the education sector entails the spirit of ensuring that children are welcomed in their neighborhood schools irrespective of their abilities both mental and physical (Winzer, 2009). In fact, it was a product of the fight for equality in the education sector where all the children can attend the school of their choice without suffering from any form of discrimination. Through my experience, inclusion in the education sector is mostly evident in the form of facilities and complimentary services. Various schools have invested heavily in creating different infrastructure realignment that has made it possible for children with disabilities to access the classrooms with more ease. Moreover, there is the utilization of assistive technology where children with disabilities access the technology free of charge as provided for by IDEA (Winzer & Mazurek, 2000). In addition, there is some added time for a school day and school year for the physically challenged children. The objective of this initiative is to provide these children with more teacher-pupil one on one contact enabling them to follow the rest of the class. Furthermore, the spirit of inclusion has also caused the student-to-student help by pushing the wheelchairs, moving their desks and participating in studying groups, etc. Therefore, this has made the physically challenged children find school time more comforting.
Rationale for Personal Beliefs About Inclusion
Through exposure to professional development, inclusion entails welcoming any student to the school of their choice. It is the spirit of helping children with disability to attain their dreams by empowering them through education. Besides, it is an approach in the education sector that has seen different institutions both bureaucratic and activist come together to guarantee the perpetuity of special education. Moreover, inclusion forms the basis through which the society has learned to appreciate the unique talents that are hidden in disabled children. Finally, in my opinion, inclusion is a spirit that has made the schools become a special place for children living with various forms of disability.
My beliefs on the inclusion are centered on different rationales that hold this initiative both as a game changer and a blessing to the sector. Education is supposed to provide a platform through which children should shape their future. Therefore, to meet this goal of education, all children must have equal access to education (Winzer & Mazurek, 2000). In the spirit of implementing this into reality, inclusion led to equality in the education sector, thus, providing equal opportunities for all the children. Moreover, education should be a tool used in bridging the gap in the society where all the representatives of young generation have the equal chances of safeguarding a prosperous future. This is a goal that can only be achieved if the education system remains an all-welcoming sector. In addition, inclusion serves best to ensure that the education not only remains welcoming for everybody but also makes it supportive for all the students (Osgood, 2005). Furthermore, the education sector should be a platform for transforming lives through empowerment and encouragement. Various forms of assistance for physically challenged children to access the schools has been the result of inclusion’s adopting that made these institutions a source of hope for these students. Undoubtedly, inclusion ought to be upheld in the education sector if more equality is to be guaranteed in our society.
Professional Role in Inclusion
Evidently, professionals are needed to sustain inclusion initiatives because they better understand the challenges faced in enhancing inclusion as well as identifying the gaps within the education sector that create diverse obstacles (Winzer & Mazurek, 2000). As a specialist in the field, I have been thoroughly researching the different challenges children with disabilities experience within the normal classes. A good example is the low level of concentration and, as a result, during my lessons, sequenced complementary questions occur referring to the topic of what has been learned during the class. The purpose of this method lies in ensuring that those left behind, not necessarily the children with disabilities, follow the rest of the students.
At school, I have been one of the agitators of improvement of walk-paths that enable easier movement for the children on a wheelchair as well as minimize unnecessary barriers for the blind who use canes. Moreover, I am also a motivation speaker in our community where I have been engaging in different forums talking to the parents of disabled children offering to take them to school if needed. My main aim is to educate my community on available opportunities provided by different Acts that guarantee education for children with disabilities. Consequently, meeting with parents has enabled me to introduce them with different capabilities that their children possess giving them hope that their kids can compete in the society just like any other. I thought that with these initiatives, as a qualified professional who believed in the inclusion as the only way out in the education sector, I will contribute to making the educational institution a place for everybody.
Fostering Successful Inclusion in the Schools, Classrooms, and Community
The fight to enhance inclusion in the education sector is a continuing battle where more measures should be taken. Children with disabilities are still facing different challenges some of which are discouraging and force them to leave school (Winzer&Mazurek, 2000). To ensure that these kids receive the best possible care, there is a need to utilize the following strategies that are area-specific.
Teachers need to do more research aimed at identifying the various difficulties that children with disabilities encounter in the classroom. The intention of inclusion is making it as comfortable as possible for these children to learn and, therefore, any new information regarding this eventuality will be a much-needed improvement. Moreover, a study should also be conducted to identify the teaching aid that will assist disabled children in following the rest of the students. Besides, the goal should also concern creating a relaxing and comfortable learning environment.
In the school surrounding, the greatest challenges that children with disabilities meet originate in the lack of appropriate infrastructures and assistive technology. On the other hand, this problem primarily occurs as a result of proper funding. Therefore, to handle this issue, there is the need for the federal government to avail more funding to schools with children with disabilities. To make the course more successful, the financing should be based on a head count to ensure a minimum amount is set per student.
Encouraging parents on the importance of bringing their physically challenged children to school should be improved. Moreover, there is also the need to teach these parents the methods they can utilize to ensure that their children cope with school’s demands. Besides, parent’s integration should be enhanced when discussing the school policies regarding the disabled children since it is these parents that understand their kids better.
In conclusion, the issue of special education has been a major challenge in the U.S. improved with the help of two legislations that till now serve as guidelines for reaching inclusion in education sector. Additionally, to ensure inclusion in the sphere the children should be allowed to access any educational institution they desire. With the help of this initiative, they will be able to adapt to the school environment as well as be accepted by both their classmates and the society in general. Undoubtedly, the teachers as well as parents should be educated on the disability matters providing the kids with the right attitude. Besides, sufficient financing should be provided to afford the essential facilities and care. Lastly, personally I will continue my inclusion campaign assisting and assuring the community that school is a place for everybody.
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Keon is a freelance writer, blogger, photographer, and traveler who tries to make this world a little bit better every day.